Papua`s Foja Mountains - Library



Papua`s Foja Mountains - Library
A Quarterly
Update for
Supporters and
Partners of
No. 6.2 2206
Papua’s Foja Mountains
CI Scientists Discover Rare Species in a Forest
Untouched by Humans 6
n Sea Turtles: Heading for Extinction? 2
n Island Biodiversity a Focus of Concern 12
n Caribbean Undersea Paradise Found 14
n Partnerships Protect Panama National Park 15
n leadership message
New Wonders Spur Greater Conservation Efforts
In this issue of Frontlines, you can
learn about CI’s discovery of an Indonesian “lost world” harboring scores of
rare and previously unknown animals
and plants, plus important findings by
our marine scientists at Saba Bank atoll
in the Caribbean.
Peter A. Seligmann
They underscore just how miraculous and precious life on Earth truly is. Best-selling author and
CI friend Bill Bryson puts it this way: Most of the planet is too
cold, dry, lofty, or thin-aired to support most types of life, and we
humans are confined to about 12 percent of Earth’s land surface.
In nearly four billion years of Earth’s existence, we are the only
Public and private partnerships are a strategic linchpin paying
handsome conservation dividends. With CI cooperation,
Wal-Mart, the world’s retail juggernaut, is analyzing its supply
chain of more than 61,000 companies to assess the sustainability
and sourcing of its products. Overseas, dozens of national leaders
in poor and developing countries are now sustainably managing
their forests, minerals, wildlife, coastal oceans, and other natural
assets instead of carelessly exploiting them.
Madagascar, for example, was heading for environmental
disaster after centuries of slash-and-burn farming. Today, under
the enlightened leadership of its dynamic young president, Marc
Ravalomanana, the Indian island nation is in the midst of a green
recovery and renaissance. Agriculture is being modernized and
uncanny position of being life’s best hope
“ We are in the and
its worst nightmare.
creature that has evolved with the intelligence to manipulate the
natural world, make it more productive, and assure the long-term
protection of nature’s benefits like clean air and water, food and
medicines, fertile soil and healthy forests.
Instead, we’ve recklessly poisoned our air and water, devastated much of our plant and animal biodiversity, and played havoc
with our climate and weather through global warming. We are in
the uncanny position, says Bryson, of being life’s best hope and its
worst nightmare.
CI‘s response to this challenge is determined and optimistic.
We gather the best scientific minds, enlist the most effective conservation partners, and make global conservation a high priority
for nations, industries, communities, and people.
We value your comments and suggestions. Please
e-mail Michael Satchell ([email protected])
or mail to the address at right.
[Senior DIRECTOR, Communications] Lisa S. Bowen
[Managing Editor] Michael Satchell
[Writer] John Tidwell
[GRAPHIC DESIGNER] Scott Fearheiley
[Photo Researcher] Gege Poggi
[Scientific advisers] Michael Hoffmann, Daniel Brito
[CONTRIBUTORS] Bruce Beehler, Mark Denil, Jennifer
Shatwell, Andrew Kolb
protected areas tripled to encompass 23,000 square miles of remaining intact ecosystems.
Recently, CI and The Nature Conservancy together pledged
$6 million to Micronesia to protect 5 million acres of marine and terrestrial habitat. Our ongoing partnerships with Brazilian state governments and conservation organizations have resulted in 72,000
square miles of protected rain forest in Brazil’s Amazonas and
Amapa states. Among our next priorities: safeguarding our latest
exciting discoveries in the Foja Mountains and Saba Bank atoll. n
Peter A. Seligmann | CI Chairman and CEO
Our Mission
CI believes that the Earth’s natural heritage
must be maintained if future generations are to
thrive spiritually, culturally, and economically.
Our mission is to conserve the Earth’s living
heritage—our global biodiversity—and to
demonstrate that human societies are able to live
harmoniously with nature.
To support CI’s mission, visit
About this publication
CI’s Conservation Frontlines is printed on New Leaf
Reincarnation, a paper made from 100 percent
recycled material (50 percent postconsumer) without
river-poisoning chlorine waste.
1919 M Street, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036
[Phone] 800.406.2306 | 202.912.1000
[Fax] 202.912.1030
[E-mail] [email protected]
[ON THE COVER] Possibly a new species of Indonesian forest
dragon (genus Hypsilurus) displays for CI’s Foja Mountain expedition, in the Papuan highlands of western New Guinea.
Credits listed clockwise from upper left.
Front cover: © Steve Richards | Back cover: © CI, Haroldo Castro
dispatches n
Study Predicts Major
Extinctions from
Global Warming
This Page: © CI, Juliane Min | © Michel Verdure for NCL | © Jose B. Ruiz | Opposite page: © ci, Russell A. Mittermeier
limate change is real and happening faster than anyone anticipated:
Ask any polar bear. But how will that
affect life globally? A new study coauthored by CI scientist Lee Hannah
concludes that
a rise of just
2 degrees in
Earth’s temperature over
the next 50
years could
wipe out tens
of thousands
of plant and
animal species, even in
Lee Hannah, senior climate
remote places
change fellow.
far away from
human activity, posing a greater threat
than deforestation this century.
Examining plants and animals in
25 of the 34 biodiversity hotspots, the
scientists also determined that some
areas are more vulnerable than others.
These include the Cape Floristic Region,
Caribbean Islands, Indo-Burma,
Mediterranean Basin, Southwest
Australia, and Tropical Andes hotspots.
Extinctions in each region could exceed
2,000 plant and animal species.
The study, supported by CI, the
World Wildlife Fund, and the David
Suzuki Foundation, corroborates 2004
findings by the University of Leeds
and CI that global warming caused by
increased atmospheric greenhouse gases
could drive species to seek cooler latitudes or higher altitudes. But for many
specialized creatures already living on
mountaintops or islands, there may be
nowhere to go. The result, the Leeds
study concluded, could be the extinction of more than a million animal
species by 2050. n
Cruise Ships to Use Conservation Maps
This March, CI’s
Center for Environmental
Leadership in Business
and the International
Council of Cruise Lines
(ICCL) launched a conservation initiative to
chart sensitive marine
areas where cruise ships
Cruise ships will avoid discharging cleansed wastewater in sensitive
visit most. The new
marine areas such as coral reefs, shellfish beds, and seamounts.
electronic map will be
integrated into existing navigational charts so vessels can avoid discharging their treated wastewater over coral reefs, sea mounts, shellfish beds,
or other sensitive marine habitats. The development of this map was one of
11 recommendations addressing ship wastewater management presented
to the ICCL by an independent panel of marine scientists led by Dr. Sylvia
Earle, executive director for CI’s Global Marine Division. For more information, see n
Half of All Native Mediterranean Reptiles Are Imperiled
scientists report that 46 reptile
species native to the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot are
facing extinction largely because of
ongoing habitat destruction and other
human activities. The 2004 assessment,
conducted by 28 leading experts, also
submitted nearly half of the region’s
355 snakes, lizards, and turtles for
inclusion on the 2006 IUCN–World
Conservation Union’s Red List of
Threatened Species. Building on last
year’s successful Global Amphibian Assessment, these findings were the first
from the Global Reptile Assessment
(GRA), an international partnership
between IUCN, CI, and NatureServe,
to document the global status of all
reptile species.
Nearly half of the Mediterranean’s
reptiles are endemic, a characteristic
of all the newly listed Critically
Endangered species that makes their
protection particularly important.
They are imperiled by a variety of
threats including domestic cats, expanding farmlands, livestock grazing, and
capture for the international pet trade.
When the GRA is completed, its
data will enable scientists to create a
comprehensive plan to protect threatened reptiles, much as the 2005 Global
Amphibian Summit did for vanishing
frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. n
A Critically Endangered El Hierro lizard (Gallotia simonyi) from
the Canary Islands is one of many Mediterranean reptiles that
are threatened by human-caused habitat loss.
| No. 6.2 | SeaTurtles
By John Tidwell
Living Fossils from
Our Primordial Past
Playa Grande, Costa Rica As the setting sun dips below the horizon and darkness mantles this
gently curving beach, a hatchling Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) scrambles
from its sandy nest and skitters to the surf as its ancestors have done here for millions of
years. Nearby, Laura Jaén, a young local woman, watches the tiny reptile disappear into the
waves and smiles as the fragile cycle of life is renewed for these endangered animals.
rotecting sea turtles and their
habitats has become her personal
mission and also forms the basis of
some powerful CI conservation partnerships here on Costa Rica’s northwestern shores. Over the past year, local women led by Jaén have organized
to protect precious sea turtle nesting
grounds by preventing uncontrolled
development that threatens the nearby
national marine park. Today these
women educate local people about sea
turtle conservation, raise money from
the growing tourist trade, and fund
On land or sea, leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) like this female can be tracked
by satellite with high-tech tags or backpacks that
beam data directly to scientists.
| front
| No. 6.2
social welfare programs that benefit
their community. None of this could
have happened without the help of partners including the Costa Rican government, the Leatherback Trust, and CI.
Grazing on ocean sponges, jellyfish, crustaceans, and seagrass,
sea turtles keep marine ecosystems
balanced. But over the past century,
humans have damaged coastal habitats
and hunted turtles so
efficiently that today, six of the seven
sea turtle species are Endangered or
Critically Endangered. Worse, modern
shrimp trawlers and industrial longline
fishing vessels kill tens of millions
of marine animals—including sea
turtles—each year.
“Sea turtles represent the plight
of all marine life,” explains Roderic
Mast, head of CI’s Sea Turtle Flagship
Emma Dalton, a researcher for the Leatherback Trust, watches over baby Olive Ridley sea turtles on Costa Rica’s Playa Grande.
This Page: © CI, John Tidwell | © Chris Johnson 2002, |
© CI, Roderick Mast | Opposite page: © SA TEAM/FOTO NATURA / Minden Pictures
Program. “There are radically fewer
turtles in the seas now than there
were a few hundred years ago. They
have fallen prey to a variety of hazards, all human caused, that threaten
Laura Jaén, turtle protector and tourist guide.
not only turtles but the oceans
Playa Grande, one of the most
beautiful beaches on Costa Rica’s
Nicoya peninsula, is also one of the
last major nesting grounds in the
Pacific for the world’s largest and
most endangered sea turtle, the
leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).
They are the survivors of a unique
evolutionary line that has cruised the
seas for more than 100 million years.
Leatherback populations have plummeted during the past two decades,
with some Pacific populations crashing
by as much as 90 percent.
Playa Grande is part of the Las
Baulas National Marine Park, Baulas
being the Spanish word for “leatherback.” For decades, conservationists
fought to block commercial development in and around the park’s 85
square miles of rich coastal and marine
habitat. They feared it would destroy
the turtles’ nesting beaches, pushing
them further toward extinction.
Las Baulas was established in
1990 but remained a-Lewis
only because of scarce funds. In 2004,
CI began working with Costa Rica’s
Ministry of the Environment and
Energy (MINAE) and other partners
to incorporate coastal and marine
conservation into the park’s mission. CI
also joined forces with the Leatherback
Trust, MarViva, and several other nongovernmental organizations working to
control commercial development and
unsustainable fishing in the park.
Later that year, Manuel Ramirez,
Senior Director of CI’s Southern
Mesoamerica program, invited Laura
Jaén and many others from local com-
“We saw dozens of baby turtles struggling toward
the ocean as waiting vultures pecked them apart.
We spent hours chasing them off until the turtles
could enter the churning sea. Taking a small action
on behalf of other
A newborn leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys
creatures was a
coriacea) heads out to sea.
lesson that will live
on with our family for
a long time.”
-Carol Blaney, CI Sojourner
| No. 6.2 | CI marine biologist and vice-president Roderic Mast gets close to a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) resting among tropical corals.
munities to participate in several
conservation workshops in Las Baulas.
Jaén, who heads a local tourist guide
association, realized how park conservation could breathe new vitality into
her nearby hometown of Matapalo.
Her guides made certain that tourists
didn’t spook nesting turtles or harm
their eggs, but Jaén was inspired by
CI’s concept of empowering local
people to be active conservationists.
She went door to door in
Matapalo urging women to join her
in a new conservation cooperative to
help Las Baulas. Her organization,
The Women Friends of Las Baulas
National Marine Park, partnered with
CI and MINAE to promote tourism,
Ci Uses Science and Partnerships
to Save Sea Turtles from Extinction
In Costa Rica, CI-supported sea turtle migration and behavior research has
added scientific heft to the government’s goal of expanding its marine protected
areas by up to 25 percent. CI’s Global Conservation Fund is providing $288,000
through our locally based partner, the Leatherback Trust, to help the Costa Rican
government purchase private land on the open market and integrate it into the
Las Baulas National Park, which includes both important terrestrial (beach)
and fully protected marine areas. Las Baulas is part of the Eastern Tropical
Pacific Seascape, an international marine biodiversity conservation corridor
that stretches from southern California to the Galápagos Islands.
In February, CI’s Sea Turtle Flagship Program launched the State of the
World’s Sea Turtles (SWoT) initiative. It is the first global database of sea turtle information and links more than 100 experts, enabling them to share their
scientific findings. It is accessible online at
The initiative’s first yearly publication, the SWoT Report (RIGHT), was
released at the 27th Annual Symposium of the International Sea Turtle Society held in April on the Greek island of Crete. The report helps experts to
assess the state of sea turtle populations, their greatest threats, and how to
effectively protect these animals on a global scale.
| front
| No. 6.2
underwrite tougher sea turtle protection laws, and raise money by selling
food and crafts to visitors. Today,
tourists flock to Las Baulas, and development is more strictly controlled.
Park concession profits fund programs
at Matapalo’s school, help single
mothers, and underwrite community
workshops on pollution prevention
and biodiversity protection.
A midnight moon casts Playa
Grande in blues and grays. Jaén observes a group of tourists waiting their
turn to approach a nesting leatherback. Still leading the guides association, she plans to use her conservation
earnings to go to college—a first in
her family.
“Our message is that people can live
with the environment without harming
it,” Jaén says. “These sea turtles and
the park are linked to my community’s
survival. If the park flourishes, we will
flourish.” For more information, visit n
Ci Launches Effort to Protect
Threatened Pantanal Wetland
By Jennifer Shatwell
This Page: © CI, Flavia Castro | © Haroldo Palo Jr. | © Jose B. Ruiz | Opposite page: © Nicolas Pilcher, Marine Research Foundation
he very real threat
that Earth’s largest freshwater wetland
could be destroyed by
commercial deforestation over the next half
century has prompted
CI to launch a major initiative to
stem the decline and restore the
damaged ecosystem. Research by CI
scientists finds that logging in the
Brazilian portion of the Pantanal has
quadrupled in recent years, and close
to 20 percent of the original vegetation has been lost.
“The devastation of the Pantanal
in Brazil can already be seen,” says
Monica Harris, CI’s Pantanal program manager. Deforestation has
caused erosion and siltation that
has permanently flooded hundreds
of downstream farms. A dramatic
decline in fish populations is taking a
socioeconomic toll on local fisheries
and river communities. Many farmers
have lost their livelihoods.
Located south of the Amazon basin at the crossroads of Bolivia, Brazil,
and Paraguay, the fragile Pantanal is
roughly half the size of California.
Tributaries of the Paraguay River
flood and recede each year, rhythmically transforming the region from
grassy savannahs to floodplains.
In addition to providing critical habitat for a diverse and highly
concentrated array of vegetation and
wildlife, the Pantanal’s hydrology
provides vital ecosystem services to
local communities, including water
purification, nutrient storage, sediment trapping, flood control, storm
protection, and climate stabilization.
More than 99 percent of the
wetland is privately owned, and only
portions of the Brazilian Pantanal
are protected. Sandy soil and annual floods are poor conditions for
agriculture, so the land is primarily
used for cattle ranching. Commercial
activities include logging, mining,
and charcoal production, and new
government incentives may soon
attract steel producers. Industrial
regulations, however, are weak and
poorly enforced.
CI is pushing several initiatives to
help preserve the vast wetland. They
include small grants to landowners
to conserve areas of their property
beyond the required 20 percent,
tougher land use laws and stronger
enforcement, grazing of cattle on native grasses instead of cleared pasture,
creation of more protected areas, and
“According to the government,
industrialization of the Pantanal is
imminent,” says Harris. “But the
environmental community is coming together and challenging state
governors to rethink the proposed
development model. Safeguarding the
area is possible.” n
New Jaguar Reserve
Helps Locals Too
As deforestation, ranching, and
industrial development gobble up Pantanal
habitat, space is shrinking for at-risk carnivores like the jaguar
(Panthera onca). Seeking a solution, CI and
the Jaguar Conservation Fund (JCF) are
creating a program
that benefits the cats,
the ranch owners,
and their employees.
A jaguar (Panthera onca)
Since 2002, CI and
hunts in the Pantanal.
JCF have been working with the pantaneiros—lifelong regional
residents—to create the first private jaguar
reserve in Brazil and, at the same time, improve human welfare.
Close to 670,000 acres on 11 ranches in
the state of Mato Grosso do Sul are involved
in the program, with plans to extend to more
than 1.2 million acres. All but the smallest
fraction of the wetland is privately owned,
and ranchers are entitled to financial compensation for cattle killed by jaguars.
In return, the program provides free
medical and dental services to ranchers,
their families, and their employees through
a partnership with a local university. Approximately 160 people are entitled to the
health services, and they also participate in
environmental awareness and jaguar protection programs. n
| No. 6.2 | discovering
a lost world
t is, says CI vice-president and
ornithologist Bruce Beehler, “as close
to Eden as you’re going to find.” Last
November, the scientist-explorer led an
international team on a Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) survey of New
Guinea’s uncharted Foja Mountains
that found a “lost world” of biodiversity. The team discovered dozens of
animal and plant species new to science and a rain forest environment
entirely free of human impact.
The discoveries included a new
species of honeyeater bird; the formerly unknown breeding grounds of
the “lost” six-wired bird of paradise
(Parotia berlepschi); a new large mammal for Indonesia, the golden-mantled
tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus pulcherrimus); more than 20 new species of
frogs; four new butterfly species; five
new species of palms and other undescribed types of plants; and what may
| frontlines | No. 6.2
Bruce Beehler holds a female Berlepsch’s six-wired bird of paradise (Parotia berlepschi).
prove to be the largest rhododendron
flower on record.
The virgin expanse of more than
2.5 million acres of old-growth, tropical
forest had been rarely visited, either by
outsiders or by local indigenous people
who live on the fringes. The Fojas may
represent the most pristine natural ecosystem in the entire Asia-Pacific region,
and, says Beehler, “we’ve only scratched
the surface.” Here is his report.
A mountain owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles albertisii)
This Page: © CI, Bruce Beehler | © Wayne Takeuchi | © CI, Bruce beehler | Opposite page: © Steve Richards
A 6-inch diameter rhododendron (Rhododendron pachystigma), possibly the largest
ever found.
The Bog Camp site, 5,413 feet above sea level.
| No. 6.2 | C h i n a
a lost world
M a l a y sBangladesh
i a
Bruce Beehler
I n d i a
Foja Mountains, Western New Guinea
had wanted to visit these mysterious and inaccessible
mountains since the late 1970s,
Sri Lankawhen I was a young
field researcher working on New Guinean birds. The Fojas
represented the last unexplored and undocumented major
mountain range on the Indonesian island of New Guinea,
itself a piece of real estate that had served up quite a few
“last unknowns” over the preceding two centuries. By the
late 1970s, New Guinea was pretty well known biologically, but there were corners that were still unvisited, and the
Fojas were at the top of the list for those of us in the know.
In 1987, I got a first glimpse of this virgin landscape
a small Cessna on a crystal clear day and saw what
looked like a dry lake bed near the range’s western summit.
This was a place one could put a helicopter! Little did I
know at the time that it would be 18 years before I would
be able to fly in and land at that site.
Early last year, I made another Cessna overflight,
and this time we saw the original upland lake bed, plus a
higher opening that might accept a helicopter. Now it was
a matter of doing the impossible—getting official government permission and police approval. Clearance to conduct
field research in Papua is something as rare as a 50-carat
ruby—to be dreamed of, but almost never to be had.
The Foja’s cloud forests are perpetually wet,
producing landscapes of verdant beauty.
| front
| No. 6.2
I n d o n e s i a
New Guinea
East Timor
New Guinea
Solomon Islands
A u As u ts trr aal il a i a
With the amazing guidance of our CI staff in
Jakarta, we obtained our permits in just six days, and last
November, our 14-member team of Indonesian, American,
and Australian scientists was shuttled into our staging site
at the small foothill village of Kwerba for our attempt on
the Fojas’ interior uplands.
Kwerba’s environs are a biologist’s paradise. The forest
pulses with life—large fruit-bats, tiny insectivorous bats,
wallabies and tree kangaroos, scuttling forest rats, more
than 120 species of birds, death adders and small-eyed
This Page: © CI, Bruce Beehler | © Yohannes Mogea | Opposite page: © Steve Richards
snakes, frogs large and small, more than 100 species of
butterflies, and hundreds of jungle plants including palms,
pandans, mahoganies, figs, laurels, and the like, making for a biotic wonderland. The whoops and hoots and
whistles of birds of paradise came from all directions. It
was a tantalizing indication of what we might find in the
mountains above—if we could get there.
The prime objective of the expedition was to thoroughly survey the montane flora and fauna, something
that had never been done, and it was going to be a challenge for several reasons. There were problems obtaining a
helicopter. Our field party was too large for a single camp.
The weather was poor, dominated by clouds and rain. We
were in the middle of nowhere, and things have a way of
going wrong in such a place.
We had managed to negotiate with a nonprofit evangelical mission group to provide us with helicopter time,
but group members were suspicious because we weren’t
missionaries, and they had serious time constraints. They
grudgingly agreed to pencil us in for a single day in and a
single day out, with no room for error. Given the uncertain
weather and conditions, this was not particularly reassuring.
We made our first, scary helicopter run up the
mountain in thick clouds, and it was touch and go
whether we would be able to see our landing site. Then
Protecting a Precious
Remnant of Eden
New Guinea is the world’s largest, highest, and
most biodiverse tropical island and is the third most
significant high biodiversity tropical wilderness after
the Amazon and the Congo. Western New Guinea
(the Papua province of Indonesia) is by far the lesser
known half of the island. Papua’s Foja Mountains are
part of the vast Mamberamo basin, the largest unroaded tropical forest tract in the Asia-Pacific region.
CI has been working for seven years to protect the
basin and is conducting a comprehensive biodiversity
assessment of the entire island to identify the most
significant resources in need of conservation.
Berlepsch’s six-wired bird of paradise (Parotia berlepschi), like this male, hadn’t been seen
alive for nearly 100 years.
voilá, the clouds parted, and the lakebed was in clear
view. Within seconds we were clambering out onto a
spongy sphagnum bog. Some areas were waterlogged;
others were firm. It was treacherous. Four minutes after
touchdown, the machine lifted off and disappeared over
the brow of the ridge. The sound receded, and the four
of us, stunned, stood in the very place we had wanted to
visit for so long.
The chopper returned three more times, ferrying
more team members and masses of baggage and supplies,
and the fourth run was a close call. The swirling mist and
cloud were closing in when the pilot punched through and
delivered his cargo, and the fifth run was not to be. The
weather ended all hopes of that. We had all 12 fieldworkers, but we were missing
440 pounds of supplies.
At this point, we were
all nervously elated that
we were finally in this
promised land. We had
surmounted many hurdles,
had defied the odds, and
had made it into the
Fojas. We were pinching
ourselves. Within minutes,
all of the scientists were
off to various corners of
A Flame of the Forest vine (Mucuna
our newly christened Bog
novoguineensis) ignites with blooms.
frontlines | No. 6.2 | discovering
a lost world
Camp. When we all met for a late luncheon, several of the
party mentioned their encounters with a weird bird with
dangling orange wattles.
Confused and intrigued, I initially thought they were
describing a common smoky honeyeater (Melipotes fumigatus). I didn’t actually see the bird for another five days, and
when I did, I saw what all the amazement was about. This
“wattled smoky honeyeater” with its distinctive wattles was
Local Partners Assured
the Expedition’s Success
The Foja expedition and its achievements
would not have been possible without the invaluable
help of local people from the villages of Kwerba
and Papasena. We needed informants, naturalists,
and guides, and they shared their knowledge of
the mountains through the oral tradition of stories
passed down by elders through the generations.
a species new to science.
The first bird our team
encountered at our camp
had never been identified
or named by western
scientists. Holy Moly! I
was in shock and, really,
in denial. We had a new
bird species!
On our second day at
Scientists think this echidna, a primitive
the Bog Camp, an adult
egg-laying mammal, may be a new
subspecies of rare Zaglossus bartoni,
male Berlepsch’s six-wired
another amazing find for the expedition.
bird of paradise (Parotia
berlepschi) and an attending female suddenly appeared at the edge of our camp and
put on a display that mesmerized us. The bird was first
described in 1897 by a German ornithologist from wildlife
skins in the private museum of Hans von Berlepsch. It appeared to originate in western New Guinea, but a precise
location of the bird’s habitat was unknown until now.
We stood transfixed as the male romped about in the
saplings around our entrance trail, flicking his wings and
white flank plumes, and whistling his sweet two-note song
for the female, finally dropping down to the ground and
hopping to and fro.
Our 15 days in the Lost World went by with remarkable speed. Some of us rose before 5:00 am to record bird
songs. Others went out after dark searching for frogs until
a few hours before dawn. Hunting parties launched out
Bruce Beehler is flanked by the leaders of Kwerba and Papasena villages,
whose partnership was crucial to the expedition’s success.
The senior leaders Pak Isak and Pak Timothy
(ABOVE), who were part of our team, had only penetrated the verges of the area on their hunting trips,
but they knew a huge amount about the wildlife
up there. Using illustrated books on mammals and
birdlife, they eagerly pointed out obscure and littleknown mountain species.
These elders were as appreciative and excited as
we were when we encountered one of the “missing”
creatures. Now, we want to empower them to be the
long-term stewards of their mountain range.
Many species the scientists found are unknown to science, like this frog (genus Callulops).
10 | front
| No. 6.2
This Page: © Steve Richards | © Steve Richards | Opposite page: Photo courtesy of Bruce Beehler | © Steve Richards | © Steve Richards
in search of unknown mammals higher up the ridges.
We cut walking paths up and down in search of the
mountains’ secrets.
The Fojas are special because they are pristine, untouched. The human population is so small, so scattered,
and so confined to the edges of this vast world that the
core forest block is apparently today entirely free of human
influence. In our two weeks ranging out in all directions
from the Bog Camp, our team never encountered any
evidence of humankind, present or past. It was a wild land
given over to wildlife.
Places such as these are now so very rare that it is difficult to understand their significance. These are the remaining “natural Earth prototypes” that humans have colonized
and modified in so many ways over several millennia. We
quickly came to realize the global significance of these
precious environments that are free
of cats, black rats,
myna birds, starlings,
sparrows, strip malls,
paved roads, unpaved
roads and Hummers.
Was it easy
A wattled smoky honeyeater (Melipotes carolae)
street? Some aspects
were easy (witness
quickly finding the
wattled smoky honeyeater and the six-wired
bird of paradise). But
there were tough times
as well. Because of lack
A broad-eared horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus
of sunlight, our entoeuryotis) found throughout New Guinea,
mologist could hunt his
proved this species ranges to high altitudes.
butterflies only an hour
a day, maximum. On most days it rained four or five times.
The ground was saturated, and the walking paths around
camp became quagmires. The camp itself became a horrible
festering bog.
But it was a paradise for us. Our spirits soared with the
joy of being here in this incredible place, so far from everything, surrounded by wildlife and untrammeled ancient
forest. I have never been to a place like this and will likely
never again have such an experience. n
A transcript of an online chat with Bruce Beehler can be
read at
Bruce Beehler, Ph.D., heads CI’s Melanesia Center for
Biodiversity Conservation.
Papua’s Rare Creatures Captivate the World
The adventure of the Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) team in the Foja Mountains not only made scientific his­tory. It
brought CI’s conservation message to the
world. Almost every major news outlet
around the globe featured the story,
riveting the attention of tens of millions
of people. In the U.S., it made headlines in
some 500 newspapers and continued to appear more than two months after the story
broke. Television programs including ABC’s
Nightline, CNN, NBC Nightly News and
PBS’s NewsHour interviewed Beehler,
while CI’s Web site received seven times
its normal direct traffic.
Appearing in languages from Mandarin
to Malagasy, CI’s strategy of science-based
conservation reached people even in rural
villages, making this story the greatest
newsmaker in CI history. Beehler says he
may return to the Foja Mountains soon, and
some of the top names in science television
are clamoring to join him. But while the Foja
expedition fascinated the world, its methods
and goals were the same as any other CI
RAP: to monitor the state of life on Earth,
and find new ways to protect it. Watch for
more exciting discoveries! For more about
the international coverage, visit www.
| No. 6.2 | 11
n friends
Conservation Convention
Highlights Ci Priorities
Island species and forest
communities are big
issues at environmental
summit in Brazil
he Phoenix Islands may be the
last coral reef paradise undisturbed by humans. A cluster of eight
pristine atolls straddling the equator in
In March, the Kiribati government took a major step to safeguard
their tropical island treasures by partnering with CI and the New England
Aquarium to create the Phoenix
Islands Protected Area (PIPA). Its
71,000 square miles of terrestrial and
marine ecosystems—an area the size
of Washington state—comprise the
largest such reserve in the Pacific. The
In an address to the COP8 delegates, Gustavo Fonseca, CI’s chief
conservation and science officer, explained how 10 of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots are made up wholly of
islands, harboring a quarter of Earth’s
threatened endemic mammals and a
third of all threatened native birds.
“Islands have some of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth,” he said.
“Chronic problems for continents, like habitat loss or invasive species, become
amplified on islands, making their biodiversity much more vulnerable.”
the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they
shelter more than 120 varieties of coral
and some 520 fish species, most found
nowhere else. They are the most remote
of the Republic of Kiribati’s island
groups, but isolation no longer protects
them from threats that range from
marauding fishing fleets to advancing
climate change.
12 | front
| No. 6.2
PIPA was announced at the Eighth
Conference of the Parties (COP8), the
governing body of the Convention on
Biological Diversity, held this spring
in Curitiba, Brazil. Kiribati’s commitment echoed one of the meeting’s
most powerful themes: the enormous
importance and fragility of biodiversity on islands.
“Chronic problems for continents, like
habitat loss or invasive species, become
amplified on islands, making their
biodiversity much more vulnerable.”
Science now recognizes isolated
habitats like islands to be engines of
evolution, forcing species to change
in order to survive. The crucible-like
conditions of mountaintops, freshwa-
Biodiversity Gathering
Reaches Major
Conservation Agreements
This Page: Map Courtesy CABS conservation mapping program, mark denil, chief cartographer | © CI, Andrea Margit | Opposite page: © David Obura, New England Aquarium
In March, nearly 4,000 representatives from governments, international
agencies, organizations, corporations, and
local communities met in Curitiba, Brazil,
to create the largest-ever gathering of
the Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD), the world’s premier conservation
[Above] The
biodiversity-rich Phoenix Islands are part of the island Republic of Kiribati some 1,600 miles southwest of
Hawaii. Marine species include this arc-eyed hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) [LEFT] watching for prey.
ter ecosystems, undersea mountains, and
islands often generate some of the greatest species concentrations on Earth.
But all this biological wealth has
a drawback: while island wildlife and
plant species have adapted perfectly
to isolation and limited space, their
specialization has made them vulnerable to human-generated threats. More
than 400 years of habitat destruction,
over-hunting, and pollution have
brought most native island creatures to
the brink of extinction.
At the COP8 meeting, delegates
adopted a comprehensive work plan
on island biodiversity that CI helped
design. This program requires island
nations to safeguard part of their land
and sea ecosystems using conservation tools like protected areas and
sustainable resource management.
The plan will be a major focus for
CI’s new Pacific Islands Program,
unveiled at COP8, which includes
the Polynesia-Micronesia and New
Caledonia hotspots.
During the conference, representatives from six of the Federated
States of Micronesia were honored for
launching last November’s Micronesia
Challenge, in which they promised to
protect 5 million acres of marine and
terrestrial habitat, an area close to the
size of New Jersey. This March, CI
and The Nature Conservancy joined
to pledge $6 million to the challenge.
Matches by other major international
donors could generate up to $18 million in support for Micronesian conservation.
The COP8 meeting championed
protection not only for biodiversity
but for threatened human cultures as
well. For example, Brazil’s Amazonas
state unveiled five new protected areas
covering nearly 6 million acres of rain
forest. While one of the protected
areas will be a state park without human inhabitants, the other four will
be managed, together with local communities, for their sustainable use.
Designed with input from their
resident traditional peoples, the four
reserves will integrate conservation
goals with human welfare, a longtime CI strategic pillar. Enabling
local communities to use natural
resources sustainably in the four
reserves helps forest people preserve
their traditions by coupling ancient
resource-use practices with modern
conservation science. n
The centerpiece of CI’s COP8 presence was its exhibit, which
focused on major issues including Brazilian protected areas and
island biodiversity.
congress. This year the Eighth Conference
of the Parties (COP8), the 187-member
governing body of the CBD, made 36 key
decisions on environmental issues, that
included biodiversity on islands, invasive
species control, climate change, and the
rights of traditional or indigenous peoples.
CI leaders Russell Mittermeier and
Gustavo Fonseca joined a high-level
ministerial side event on island biodiversity, addressing priorities like Kiribati’s
new protected area and funding for the
Micronesia Challenge (see main feature),
part of a larger program of work on island
biodiversity. This program, adopted by the
COP8 congress, was widely considered
the conference’s greatest success. Coupled with protected area events from CI’s
Andes and Brazil offices, this year’s CBD
meeting represented major progress for
CI priorities and the protection of Earth’s
most threatened species. n
| No. 6.2 | 13
Finding and Protecting
an Undersea Wonderland
in the Caribbean
CI scientists discover an abundance of marine species on an
undersea mountaintop that forms the world’s third largest atoll.
magine a coral atoll set
like a jeweled ring beneath emerald Caribbean
seas, its crystalline waters,
undulating seaweed forests, and pristine reefs harboring an amazing collection of brilliantly colored corals, fish,
and other marine wildlife. Now picture
oil supertankers dropping their 9-ton
anchors and smashing huge chunks
off the reef, the anchor chains scraping
and grinding the delicate coral formations as the ships swing with the winds
and the currents.
That’s the environmental tragedy
of Saba Bank, a massive undersea
mountain southeast of Puerto Rico
where tankers moor on the reef to save
a few hundred dollars in anchorage fees
as they wait to discharge their crude
at nearby St. Eustatius Island. Now,
thanks to a CI-led scientific survey that
found an astonishingly rich diversity
of fish and marine vegetation, the atoll
is a prime candidate for designation as
a protected area under international
maritime law. The reefs may be spared
the industrial assault that is slowly
destroying them.
Saba Bank is located about 12
miles from Saba Island, one of the
Windward Islands of the Netherlands
Antilles in the Caribbean Islands
Biodiversity Hotspot. Saba’s 1,500 residents rely on tourism and fishing that
are both centered on the atoll, the third
largest on Earth. When they realized
the growing threat from the tankers
14 | front
| No. 6.2
Rare corals, sponges, and algae that flourish on the Saba Bank are often damaged by oil supertankers [above] that anchor above
them. CI and partners are working to permanently protect this pristine habitat under international maritime law.
to the reefs—and thus their livelihoods—the islanders sought help.
CI’s Rapid Assessment Program
(RAP) mobilized an interagency
research team to document the largely
unknown marine ecosystem. If the
atoll proved to harbor significant biodiversity under specific threat, it could
potentially qualify for international
protection. In less than two weeks, the
research team found precisely what
they were hoping for—and much more.
“Only about 35 species of fish had
ever been documented in the area,” says
CI scientist Michael Smith, who was
part of the Marine RAP team. “We
collected data on some 200, along with
vast beds of diverse seaweed including a
dozen or more new species.”
CI hopes the Marine RAP findings will provide a scientific basis
for official designation of Saba Bank
as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area
(PSSA) by the International Maritime
Organization. As a PSSA, Saba Bank
could be protected by no-anchor zones
and safe passageways for tankers.
“It’s now widely accepted that a
biodiversity-rich place, when properly protected, will seed biodiversity
elsewhere,” says Smith. “Saba Bank
is such a place, a keystone location
of extraordinary significance to the
entire Caribbean.” n
Partners Stop Government
Plan to Build Road Through
Panama National Park
By John Tidwell
Chiriqui Province,
Panama The musical
This Page: © CI, John Tidwell | © CI, John Tidwell | Opposite page: © Diane Littler | © Diane Littler
trill of a resplendent
quetzal (Pharomachrus
mocinno) echoes through
misty thickets of laurel
and tree ferns in one
of Panama’s last cloud forests, 6,000
feet up the flanks of the dormant Baru
volcano. Part of the Mesoamerica
Biodiversity Hotspot, Baru Volcano
National Park is 35,000-acres of pristine
forest, home to some 115 rare species.
In 1982, Panama joined Baru with La
Amistad Biosphere Reserve, a 2-millionacre UNESCO World Heritage Site it
shares with Costa Rica, so Baru would
be protected forever.
Lider Sucre, executive director
of the Asociación Nacional para
la Conservación de la Naturaleza
(ANCON), Panama’s largest conservation organization, wanders the
“Sendero de los Quetzales” (Path
of the Quetzals), a five-mile path
through Baru’s northern forests. Three
years ago, this trail brought Panama’s
government into conflict with the
nation’s environmentalists, thrusting
Baru into the national spotlight.
In 2002, Panamanian President
Mireya Moscoso announced plans to
turn the trail into a road that would
slice through the park, claiming it
would boost local economies. Panama’s
conservationists were appalled.
Panamanian conservationist Lider Sucre on the trail where a road was to be built through Baru Volcano
National Park [above]. He also led a local rally commemorating the road project’s defeat [below].
“We discovered she had changed
Panama’s environmental laws to make
it legal to run a big road through our
park,” explains Sucre. “This undermined
decades of conservation and flaunted
the treaty between Costa Rica and
Panama that created La Amistad.”
The proposed highway would
cut Baru’s forest lifeline to the
biosphere reserve, preventing large
animals from ranging north to breed.
It would also open the park to commercial development.
This threat united Panama’s conservation groups into bold new alliances.
ANCON partnered with UNESCO,
the World Bank, and CI to urge
Moscoso to create an environmental
impact assessment before starting the
road. The study took a year to complete,
buying conservationists time to mount
their own assessment and environmental
awareness campaigns.
Backed by CI, ANCON’s impact
study proved the road would cripple
Baru’s ecosystems, a big attraction for
tourists and the source of fresh water
for local people. The study also designed another road that avoided Baru.
Meanwhile, Asociación Ambientalista
de Tierras Altas (ADATA), a coalition
of about 15 Panamanian conservation groups supported by CI’s Critical
Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF),
showed area villagers how Baru’s ecosystems benefited them.
In February 2004, the government’s
commissioned impact study gave its
expected blessing to Moscoso’s road.
Conservationists challenged it with
their report, which was so conclusive
that Panama’s Environment Authority
rejected the government’s plan. As elections neared, ANCON conducted a nationwide poll, aided by CEPF that urged
the public to respond to the issue.
Panama’s answer was clear: more
than 11,000 ballots were returned,
nearly all demanding Baru’s protection.
When Moscoso’s regime lost the elections, her road project collapsed. Since
then, Panama’s environmental laws have
been restored and its conservation community flourishes.
Standing on the Path of the
Quetzals, Sucre surveys the lush forest
he and other environmentalists saved.
“This battle showed us that you can’t do
much conservation alone,” he says. “But
united, we challenged our own government—and won!” n
| No. 6.2 | 15
n friends
Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin introduces his friend, an Australian wedgetailed eagle (Aquila audax), to the Los Angeles audience.
Best-selling author and humorist Bill Bryson was the event’s keynote speaker. The animals onscreen are tarsirs.
Stewardship of the Wild a Major Theme at LA Dinner
’s recent discovery of a “lost
Eden” in the remote Foja Mountains of Papua, Indonesia, should inspire
humans to strive even harder to protect
the natural world, CI Chairman and
CEO Peter Seligmann told some 350
supporters at CI’s 10th Annual Los Angeles dinner in March.
Continuing the exploration and
discovery theme, CI President Russ
Mittermeier described and showed video
of another inspiring CI expedition. This
was a Rapid Assessment Program (RAP)
survey of biodiversity in the Himalaya
and the Mountains of Southwest China
Biodiversity Hotspots by CI scientists
and Walt Disney Company employees.
The study highlighted the importance of partnerships to CI and the fact
that conservation in this pristine region
is made possible by working closely with
Welcome to the CI Family
Sincere thanks to the newest members of CI’s Emerald
Circle (January to March). Each of these exceptional
individuals has given $1,000 or more to CI, helping to lay
the groundwork for our conservation success.
Dirk Aguilar
Towne Allen
Barry and Jo Ariko
John and Julia Badham
Meredith Baer
Julien Basch
Martin Bauer
Barry Bernardi
Robin Bernardi
Syvi Boon
Barbara Bosson
Katrina and Carter Brandon
Barbara Cahill and John
John Catto
Rod and Nancy Chiamulon
Tina Young and Wilson Chin
Nathaniel David
David Deardorff
Susie Ellis
16 | front
| No. 6.2
Steven and Randy Fifield
Lawrence and Stephanie
Peggy Frasse
David Geffen
Liberty Godshall and Ed Zwick
Barry and Beverly Gold
Lawrence and Vicky
Bryan Gordon
Eric Grubman and Betsy
Leeds and Wendy Gulick
Robert Harris
Jim and Bethany Hornthal
Bruce and Gretchen
Nina Jacobson
Joseph Jeral
Michael and Mari Johnson
Scarlet Johnson
Claudia Kahn
Thomas Kempner and
Katheryn Patterson
William and Lynn Kilbourne
Jonathan and Debbie Klein
Louise Klein
Anne Lambert
Andrea Lipper
Nick and Linda Marck
Patty Mayer
Aaron and Lindsay Miller
Jeffrey and Connie Morgan
Mark and Katie Mullen
Ann Nitze
George and Mary Rabb
Steven Rales
Hector, Cedric, and Sale
Soumya V. Sastry
Tom and Miriam Schulman
Jeffrey and Elizabeth
Stephen and Cindy Shimshak
Gloria Shulman and John
Michael Spalter
Garry and Ramyne Spire
Julie and John Stamstad
Karen Sternal
Lewis and Karen Strauss
Karen Trilevsky
Kenneth and Elizabeth Troy
John and Eva Usdan
Wim Vandenhoeck
Michael Weinstein
Boyd Willat and Tiffany
David and Jamie Wolf
David Yoder
scientists, the government, and the local
people to whom these lands are sacred.
Disney’s staff took notes for Expedition
Everest, a new high-speed roller coaster
incorporating aspects of Himalayan
culture, that opened at Disney’s Animal
Kingdom theme park in Florida, that incorporates aspects of Himalayan culture.
It was left to keynote speaker and
best-selling author Bill Bryson (A Short
History of Nearly Everything; A Walk
in the Woods) to wax poetic about CI’s
adventurers. “Look around you the next
time you’re out in a green place, and
marvel, I beg you, at the staggering inventiveness, the elegance, the beauty, the
utility, the exquisite, unimprovable glory
that is life on Earth,” Bryson said. You’re
extraordinarily lucky to be living on
Earth, he told the guests, because as far
as we know, it’s the only place in the entire universe that has the abundance of
life that we enjoy on our planet. Watch
Bill Bryson at
events and click on L.A. event.
Master of ceremonies Jeff Corwin,
wildlife biologist and Emmy-winning
host on the Animal Planet television
network, spoke passionately about how
the birth of his daughter made him
realize the need to preserve nature for
future generations. Jeff was joined onstage by Mickey Mittermeier, son of the
This Page: © DanSteinberg / BerlinerStudio / BEImages | © DanSteinberg / BerlinerStudio / BEImages | © DanSteinberg / BerlinerStudio / BEImages | © ci, Russell A. Mittermeier | Opposite page: © DanSteinberg / BerlinerStudio / BEImages | © DanSteinberg / BerlinerStudio / BEImages
CI president. The 13-year-old budding
herpetologist carried a blue-tongued
skink (Tiliqua spp) to the stage and
spoke about his fear that Earth’s wild
places were disappearing too fast. “I’m
scared that by the time I’m old enough
to study animals in the wild, they’ll be
history, not biology,” he told the crowd.
Although the evening’s speakers
offered their individual perspectives,
there was a consensus that the present
is a critical time for conservation. In
Bryson’s words: “Life is precious, and
miraculous, and rare, and they’re not
making any more of it. We have a
sacred duty—that’s not putting it too
strongly—to look after it wherever
we find it.” n
Ten Years of Successful Los Angeles Dinners
Our March event in Los Angeles
marks the tenth annual dinner CI has
hosted in the City of Angels. Our first
dinner in 1996 saw fewer than one hundred gathered in Morton’s Steakhouse.
Who would have thought then that
more than 300 people would choose a
CI event over Oscar week parties? The
crowd at the Santa Monica Airport’s
Hangar 8 celebrating a decade of CI’s
successes clearly felt passionate about
raising support for critical conservation
projects worldwide.
Conservation International’s dinners have become an important tool in
raising funds and recognition for CI and
building awareness of the urgency of
CI’s mission. The commitment of the Los
Angeles community to CI has grown
tremendously over the years. The
1996 dinner raised just over $100,000,
while the 2006 dinner raised $927,000.
These funds will help CI protect ecosystems everywhere from Peru to
Papua New Guinea.
Especially deserving of recognition
are those who were involved in that first
dinner and have been with us at all the
dinners we’ve held since: Skip Brittenham, Mark Feldman, and Harrison Ford.
Thanks also to Barbara Bauer whose efforts truly made this year’s dinner one of
our best ever. Thank you for believing in
CI in its early days and for your continued support for our mission, which is as
urgent today as it ever has been!
the future of Life society
You can help ensure a healthy future for our planet by becoming a
member of the Future of Life Society. This forward-thinking group
supports CI through estate plans, property gifts, and retirement
and insurance options. To learn what you can do today to make
a difference for future generations, contact us at 800.406.2306 or
at [email protected]
Barbara Bauer [Right] with aspiring herpetologist Mickey
Mittermeier. Barbara’s leadership on the dinner committee
was crucial to the event’s success.
Los Angeles Dinner Committee
This year’s event would not have been
so successful without the tireless
efforts of our dinner committee.
Barbara Bauer
Heather Thomas
Brittenham and
Skip Brittenham
Lew Coleman and
Anne Solbraekke
Barry Diller
Mark Feldman
Harrison Ford
Jane and Jeff Gale
Marilyn and Jeffrey
George Meyer and
Maria Semple
Lynda and Stewart
Nancy Morgan
Kirsten and John
Marcia Allen and
Gary Finkel
Patrice Auld
Laurie and Bill
Robin Bernardi
Michael Curry
Donald Goodman
Tom Hormel
Arthur Jolly
Michael Keaton
Steven Latham
John H. Lavely, Jr.
Brooke Siebel
Mitchell and Tyler
Sara Nichols
William Resnick
and Doug Cordell
Jen Siebel
Judi and Bruce Stern
Boyd Willat and
Tiffany Robinson
Evonne and Wayne
| No. 6.2 | 17
Taking the Conservation Message Underground
See highlights of Venezuela’s natural world online at
A million passengers ride the
Caracas, Venezuela metro system each day. What better place
for a conservation message. In January,
Conservation International and partner CEMEX teamed up to launch an
extensive photo exhibit, “Megadiverse
Venezuela,” in the Fine Arts station
that serves the city’s cultural center. The
display takes viewers through the vast and
varied world of Venezuela’s biodiversity and
describes how a healthy natural world is indispensable to people everywhere. Local
students are offered guided tours of the exhibit in an effort to raise their awareness of
biodiversity conservation.
CI Live
Live, online interviews with conservation experts at
Introducing CI Live, an exciting new online feature. CI Live gives you the unique
opportunity to interview conservation experts about their work. From saving threatened species to combating climate change, CI
Live will provide a forum to discuss the major
issues of our day. You ask the questions. We’ll
bring the experts.
Conservation International Foundation
1919 M Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
Non-profit Org.
U.S. Postage
Suburban Maryland
Permit No. 4913

Similar documents